BD vs Aus: Teams set to renew Test vows after 11 years

Big Picture

Mitchell Johnson’s entire Test career of 313 wickets; 611 of the 617 Twenty20 internationals that have ever been played; every tweet ever. – these are just some of the things that have happened since Australia and Bangladesh last played each other in Test cricket.

That’s right: when they last met in 2006, Twitter had not even been launched. We might as well be talking about the #darkages. Such has been the reluctance of Australia to schedule Tests against Bangladesh, it has now been 11 years since their last series, when Jason Gillespie made the unlikeliest double-century in Test history.

In 2008, Australia were scheduled to host Bangladesh for two winter Tests, but that series was postponed until 2010 due to a clash with the Beijing Olympics. The 2010 series didn’t happen either. In 2011, the Future Tours Programme had Australia listed to play two Tests in Bangladesh; instead, that tour was limited to three ODIs and no Tests. And then in 2015, Australia were all set to depart for a Test tour when they (sensibly) delayed the trip on security advice from the Australian government. Finally, a series that has not been postponed, and if the weather allows, it should be a fascinating contest.

Australia enter the series without a warm-up game in Bangladesh and with a poor recent history in Asia. They have taken some self-belief from their competitive performance in India earlier this year, but questions remain over key batsmen David Warner and Usman Khawaja on slow, turning pitches, as well as the quality of their second spinner, Ashton Agar. Should Australia lose 2-0, they would fall to sixth on the ICC Test rankings, their lowest ever.

Bangladesh have no shortage of self-belief, having beaten England in their most recent home Test and Sri Lanka in their most recent away Test. They have spinners who will challenge Australia’s defensive techniques and patience, and one of those is also the world’s best Test allrounder: Shakib Al Hasan. They have enough experience and talent in their batting order, through Shakib, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, to pose problems for Australia’s bowlers.

So, four postponed Test series and hundreds of billions of tweets later, here we are, for what should be a close battle. #bringiton

Form guide

Bangladesh: WLLLL(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Australia: LDLWW

In the spotlight

He averages 40 with the bat, 33 with the ball, and is No.1 on the ICC’s rankings for Test allrounders, yet because he doesn’t play for one of the so-called “big teams” often, Shakib Al Hasan still probably doesn’t get the worldwide recognition he deserves. Entering his 50th Test match – and his first against Australia – he hopes to join Dale Steyn, Rangana Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan as the only bowlers with five-wicket Test hauls against all other countries. It would be a truly remarkable achievement, coming from a country that plays relatively little Test cricket.

There is no more important player for Australia’s chances in this series than the captain Steven Smith. In India earlier this year, Smith showed his patience and skill against high quality spin bowling and scored centuries in three of the four Test matches. There is no reason to think he will be any less successful in Bangladesh, and big scores from Smith will go a long way to Australia having a strong series. But, of course, he will need somebody to stay out there with him.

Team news

Mushfiqur Rahim appears likely to keep wickets, which would mean Liton Das misses out. The selectors will have a tough decision to make between Taskin Ahmed and Shafiul Islam, but Shafiul might just get the nod.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Imrul Kayes, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Mustafizur Rahman,

Khawaja looks set to regain his place in the side after Shaun Marsh was preferred in India, and Ashton Agar is expected to join Nathan Lyon as the second spinner. The only other possible decision for the selectors is whether to include allrounder Hilton Cartwright as an extra seam-bowling option, but that would require leaving Glenn Maxwell out, an unlikely scenario after his batting success in India.

Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Matt Renshaw, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Usman Khawaja, 5 Peter Handscomb, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Nathan Lyon.

Pitch and conditions

The pitch is not expected to be too similar to the one that England encountered on this ground last year, but it will be on the slower side with spin expected from day two. Rain is predicted on all five days of the Test, so the chances of a result will depend on how quickly the newly-laid outfield can dry – usually, the drainage is good.

Stats and trivia

  • This Test will be the 50th for both Tamim Iqbal and Shakib; they will join Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur and Habibul Bashar as the only Bangladeshis to reach the milestone
  • Lyon needs three wickets to become the eighth Australian to 250 in Tests. In doing so he would pass Richie Benaud to become Australia’s second-leading Test spinner of all time
  • These teams have played each other in only four Tests, for four wins to Australia – but no player from either squad has played in any of those previous matches

Quotes

“I think our spin attack is better than theirs. Not in all conditions but in Bangladesh, we are better than them.”
Shakib Al Hasan throws the gauntlet down to the Australians

“No matter what we’re playing on, it’s the same for both teams, it’s just about adapting. I think that’s one of Smithy’s strengths as the captain, he’s been able to direct us and lead us in that way – the ‘no-whingeing’ policy.”
Nathan Lyon says the Australians will have no complaints about whatever pitch is used

Source: The Daily Ittefaq

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